Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.
If I haven’t already mentioned this let me do it now.
I absolutely adore YA dystopian fiction! I am so amazed at all the different creative takes on what our world could potentially look like a few hundred years in the future. If you haven’t read any YA dystopian stuff, you really need to. Now. Do it.
Okay, so back to Matched and Crossed by Ally Condie. I decided to review book together because I read (listened to the audiobook) one right after the other. And why not?!
One thing I noticed right off the bat is Condie’s attention to the importance of words. Poetry plays a major role throughout the two books, tying characters together and moving the plot along, and Condie’s writing style itself is incredibly poetic. I found myself quickly wrapped up in the beauty of Condie’s words and wished I had a print copy so I could go back and re read specific quotes.
Every dystopian novel needs its unique hook. The Hunger Games (the games), Divergent (the factions), Uglies (the major cosmetic surgery), etc… The hook in the Matched series is that everyone’s perfect mate is selected for you by the society. Such an interesting backdrop. Imagine your society watching you and recording you data since the day you were born in order to determine your job, and most importantly who you will spend the rest of your life with. This made me cringe right off the bat! But the society knows best right?
What I found interesting about Cassia, the heroine, is that she is your normal everyday trusting girl. Up until her Matching ceremony she has absolutely no reason to distrust The Society. Up until this point her life has been pretty good, she gets the highest marks in school, her parents are prominent members in the community, and she has good friends. It took me a while to recognize this about Cassia. At times in the beginning I would question her actions and trust, but once I asked myself, “Why wouldn’t she trust?!” I completely understood her character and agreed that I would probably behave the same way she does.
Additionally, Condie has created a super intriguing backdrop for the story to take place. The Society is clean and streamlined. Nothing is unnecessary. Nothing causes distraction. At some point before the story begins The Society has downsized culture into easily manageable chunks. They choose the 100 songs, 100 poems, 100 paintings etc… under the idea that one cannot fully appreciate good culture when there is so much extra or bad culture distracting you from it. All that didn’t make the cut has been destroyed and lost forever. So interesting and sad all at the same time.
Condie hints at this a bit in Matched, but it is more strongly illustrated in Crossed—the idea that creation equals freedom. Because of this streamlined culture, no one can create anything new under The Society’s watch. No new music, poems, books etc… So, when one character teaches another to write its their form of rebellion, which leads to experiencing a sense of freedom. Our ability to create points to our freedom! Without that ability to create the citizens of The Society are oppressed without even realizing it! Very cool idea.
Also, secrets are prominent in this series. Cassia starts to learn that every person she knows has their own secrets, including those she thought she knew best. Cassia begins to realize that one’s secrets are another form of rebellion against The Society; which gives her a sense of power.
There is a love triangle, and its a very well done one. Although she feels pulled in both directions (and rightfully so) Cassia recognizes that both boys represent a different path in her life and she chooses her path pretty quickly. I’ve read some other reviews on current YA fiction and people seem to be harping on the whole love triangle thing. I don’t have a problem with it! I love the existence of romance in the books I read and a well done a love triangle is fun as long as it’s not Legends of the Fall-ish (Wow I’ve really been harping on that movie a lot recently…strong feelings much!?). Hooray for love triangles!
I will say that I do prefer Matched to its sequel Crossed, as I feel like Crossed could be pretty slow at times. However, I recommend both titles and I am eagerly awaiting the third book, which is scheduled to be released in November 2012 (according to Condie’s website). So, if you’re into dystopian fiction, the Matched series is definitely one to read. I’d say these books are best for older middle grade readers and up, based on attention span (there isn’t a whole lot of “action” going on); I do not think it will appeal to younger middle grade readers based on that fact alone.
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Matched: Speak (Penguin), November 30, 2010
Crossed: Penguin Audio; Unabridged, November 1, 2011
Format: Matched: Library Bound Hardcover
Length: Matched: 366 pages
Crossed: 9 hrs and 50 mins
Series: Books 1 and 2 in a trilogy
Buy the Book: Matched Crossed (Matched)